The 1% Rule

As human beings we learn every day, all day long. We do this act subconsciously and unconsciously, and that’s simply because learning is a part of life. And so are habits. We are constantly processing cues from our environment and following deeply ingrained habitual routines – some desirable and others not so much.

But what if you were to make a conscious effort to unlearn certain behaviours that you have subconsciously created into habits? For example, how many of us parents have worries about how much time we allow our children to spend unproductively on screens, yet we have no idea how to control our own addiction to mindlessly scrolling on Instagram?

What if you were able to be more deliberate about the incorporation of new healthy habits into your daily life? What if you were able to understand more about how to match your actions to the outcomes you desire? Would this knowledge lead to positive change?

Evolution requires growth and growth requires learning. Motivation is driven by your desired outcomes and this is tightly knitted into your belief system and lifestyle. That being said, have you ever paused to consider:
Why your body needs to be strong and healthy?
How to optimize your brain to function at its best?
How to manage digital distractions?
How to feel more organized and on top of things?
How to feel less stressed?
How to build or break habits?
How to make choices that are conducive to your desired lifestyle?

These are not common questions that most would go on an introspective quest for! I beg to ask, would answering any of these questions lead you to embarking on a healthier lifestyle? And how would this healthier lifestyle benefit you and your children?

As an expert in coaching individuals to approach learning from a holistic perspective, the end result is always to strive to thrive rather than to simply survive. Yet so many of us as parents feel like we are stuck in survival mode. It can be challenging when we are caught up in the day-to-day grind, taking care of our children, our homes, our jobs, and coupled with the fact that we are still facing global and racial pandemics. Many of the parents I’ve spoken to have no energy to even begin to think about what it would take to start the process of creating positive changes to their lifestyle. Which is why one of the most common questions I get from parents is, “Where do I begin?”

My answer: Begin with The 1% Rule!

The 1% Rule is choosing one area to focus on and aiming to improve in that specific area by only 1%. Basically, it is narrowing your focus and then taking baby steps to get there. Knowing that your intention is to only improve by 1% significantly reduces self-imposed pressure and makes it easier for you to successfully accomplish even a tiny increase that can then serve as a catalyst for further improvement, and ideally the incorporation of a newly ingrained healthy habit. It’s a common misconception that you should wait for the motivation to come in order to take action, but the 1% rule allows you to take a tiny sliver of action that can help to jump start your motivation and, in turn, create momentum.

The 1% Rule is choosing one area to focus on and aiming to improve in that specific area by only 1% which significantly reduces self-imposed pressure and can then serve as a catalyst for further improvement.

I first discovered this concept from the book The Ripple Effect by Dr. Greg Wells. Dr. Wells states that “a 1% change may not seem like much, but it takes you, step by step, farther along the path to optimal health and reaching your potential.” It’s really like casting a vote towards the type of person you would like to become. And by aiming to improve by just 1%, you are much more likely to commit to some positive changes. It is these positive changes that can help you to feel more energetic, focused, and better able to cope with the many stressors that life brings.

If you are looking to make some positive changes, here are some ideas of how you can improve by 1% in the area that you would like to start focusing on:

Sleep

  • Try turning off all screens 15 minutes before going to bed. The blue light emitted from television, computer or phone screens can decrease the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Aim to increase this time by 5 minutes each week until you get to no screens for 30 or 60 minutes before bed.
  • Try taking a nice warm bath to relax you before going to bed. Carve out time for a short 10 minute bath and then try to increase the time by an additional 5 minutes each week.
  • Read a book in bed. Again, carving out the time is key. Start with a few minutes and work your way up a few minutes each time – this always makes me knock out!

Nutrition and Hydration

  • Cut up some fruits and veggies and have them easily accessible for snacking during the week. Each week try to introduce 1 extra fruit or veggie into your meal.
  • Plan out your meals for the next day to increase your chances of making healthier choices. Work towards planning out a whole week’s worth of meals.
  • Put an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink an extra glass of water throughout the day and work your way up to your goal of 2-3L per day.

Physical Activity

  • Get your workout clothes ready the night before.
  • Add an extra 5 minutes to your usual route when you go for a walk.
  • Try a virtual fitness/yoga class and just do it for a few minutes. The next day, try to stick with it for a few minutes longer than the day before.

Mindset

  • Try a guided meditation app and start with 3 minutes, gradually working your way up to 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Write down 3 things you are grateful for and work your way up to 5 things.
  • Send a text message to a friend or family member that you enjoy talking to and plan to call them the next time.

While it can be tempting to want to make several changes all at once, I highly recommend starting with one area because, unfortunately, if you try to focus on everything, you’ll often end up accomplishing nothing. It can very quickly become overwhelming.

So how will you aim to be 1% better tomorrow? Remember, every single step you take helps you on your journey to becoming a better version of you!

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for upcoming workshops where we will work together to get you learning to not only survive, but to thrive!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

A Shift in Direction

This has been a unique and challenging time for many of us, to say the least. 

It has taken me quite some time to process everything that has been going on in the world as we continue to navigate these unchartered waters. The “great pause of 2020” has allowed me the opportunity for some much-needed reflection about what I want to do to and how I can continue to be of service to others. With all of the major global shifts we’ve been facing, I realized that my purpose may have to shift as well, and I have thought long and hard about what this shift could be.

As many of you know, my current work as a Learning Strategist involves helping students to achieve academic success. And while I will continue to do this important work, I felt deep down in my heart that I had to do more. I yearned to contribute to impactful change, on a more foundational level. This is what led me to the decision to start with parents. 

Now, I am not a parenting expert by any means, although I am a parent.

What I am is a learning expert. I know all about the neuroscience of learning and how the brain works to process and store information. I know all about the tools, tips and tricks that can help students to learn more efficiently and effectively whether they are physically in a classroom or learning virtually at home. I eat, sleep and breathe learning. I believe that learning is a lifestyle and I wholeheartedly believe, as Nelson Mandela said, that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

Collectively, the skills I’ve developed in all my years of practice, put me in a position to help others LEARN to be the best version of themselves. And one of the most important things I’ve learned by working with thousands of students over the last 2 decades is that there is soooo much more to it than just learning! Things like prioritizing self-care, incorporating healthy habits, practicing effective time management, controlling digital distraction, and embracing a growth mindset all play a HUGE role in one’s ability to succeed. And many of these things start at home. I couldn’t agree more with the statement “More is caught than is taught.”

So, how exactly do I plan to help support parents?

First of all, I have to say that I understand that every parent’s situation is unique. I am not offering a one size fits all or band-aid solution. What I plan to offer are tools, tips and strategies that can help to support student learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.

In August I will be hosting a series of workshops that will help parents to learn more about:

  • Practical solutions for time management and organizational skills
  • How to monitor and limit screen time usage
  • Brain optimization through the prioritization of self-care
  • How to encourage the development of a positive attitude towards learning
  • How students can learn and retain information more efficiently, effectively, and more independently
  • How to increase motivation and engagement in learning
  • How to support your child’s virtual learning

At this point in time, we are unaware of what September will look like in terms of going “back to school.” My hope is that these workshops will provide valuable information that can be applied whether students are physically back in the classrooms or learning from home.

Interested in learning with me?  Stay tuned for registration info and learn more about how we can work together to start off strong this September!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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Tips for Making Life Choices Conducive to your Desired Lifestyle – Part 1

One of my favourite quotes comes from J.K. Rowling: “It is our choices that determine our path, far more than our abilities.” I tell this quote to students all the time because I truly believe that anyone can have the ability to live their desired lifestyle, but it is really their choices that will determine how they spend their days.

James Clear, the author of one of my favourite books Atomic Habits says that our daily choices are like casting votes towards the type of person we wish to become. If you want to become a healthy eater, you choose to eat healthy foods. If you want to become stronger, you choose to exercise. Clear says that positive choices are like “compound interest for our future self.”  And I couldn’t agree more.

Check out the first 5 of my top 10 tips on how you can make choices that can help to get you closer to the lifestyle you desire:

1. Choose one area of self-care to focus on improving.

Many of us are aware that we need more sleep, more exercise, or that we don’t drink as much water as we should, but it can be daunting to try to improve all areas of self-care at once. Often when we try to focus on everything, we end up achieving nothing. Instead, choose one area to focus on and aim to be just 1% better each day. Figure out how to make that one thing more obvious, attractive, and easier. As written by Barbara Oakley in A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science, “If you protect your routine, eventually it will protect you.”

2. Try habit stacking.

Since we are such habitual creatures, it can be challenging to suddenly introduce a new habit and then have that new habit stick. Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to incorporate small changes into a routine that you have already established. For example, sitting down to meditate for 5 minutes right after you brush your teeth (because you already brush your teeth every day anyways… at least I hope you do!). The key to consistency is to treat a habit stack like a single action, rather than a series of individual tasks.

3. Set up your space and yourself for success.

Make sure that you have designated space for work that is not your bed, because no matter how awake you feel, you WILL fall asleep! Having a designated space can help to prime your brain and get it into work mode.  If you’re using a multi-use space for work, such as the kitchen table, try creating a work kit that has your laptop and other essentials that you can set up each day when you start working and pack up when you’re done.

Set yourself up too! Get yourself “ready” for work, again to let your brain know that it’s not time to lounge around and relax. Create boundaries with family if possible – tell kids when you will be available so they will know when to expect you and won’t interrupt you as often.

Try creating a beginning and end of work ritual. Something as simple as opening the blinds and getting your cup of tea can signal that it’s time to get started. At the end of your shift, close your laptop and do a “pen drop” to signify that your work for the day is done!

4. Decrease distractions.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is very true. Trust me, if I have a bag of chips right in front of me, it’s going down! But if I can’t see the chips, then I will be a lot less tempted to indulge. I recommended following this “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy for snacks and also for your phone. Try turning off your notifications so you’re not constantly interrupted. Even better, try putting your phone in another room! Whenever I try this, I am always amazed at how much more work I am able to get done. Do you like to listen to music while you work? While I do recommend it for drowning out the noise in busy households, ask yourself, “Is this music helping or hindering?” Sometimes music can be distracting because the lyrics ignite the language centres in our brain – the same language centres we likely need to concentrate on our work.

5. Use purposeful planning.

“If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail!” It’s extremely beneficial to use an external system to keep track of what you have to do and when you plan to do it. Sometimes to-do lists don’t work well because you have not made a clear plan as to how and when you will accomplish your tasks. Writing this in the form of an “implementation intention” has been shown to significantly increase your chances of achieving your goal.

You can also plan and aim to increase day to day productivity by abiding by the Power of 3.  Each week, choose 3 major goals you would like to accomplish, then each day, choose 3 tasks that will help you work towards meeting those goals!

And lastly, you can prioritize your task list using the stoplight system, one of my faves. When creating your task list, put a red, yellow, or green dot beside each one. Red means the task is challenging and will require a lot of brainpower. Green means it’s a much easier task and yellow is somewhere in the middle. Once you’ve designated your colours, you can decide which part of your day to do them in. For example, I know that I have the most energy and focus first thing in the morning, so I tend to schedule my red tasks earlier in the day. 

What tip resonated with you the most? I recommend starting with that one first. Be sure to look out for Part 2 next week where I will share more tips to help you be happier, healthier, and more productive!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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Reflect, Review, Recharge: Tips for Summer Break

Do weeks or even months of no college or university mean you should just relax and do nothing?!

While I do think it’s important to take some time off to rest and recharge, I also think that the summer break can be a great time to solidify your knowledge and enhance your overall well-being.

Many post secondary students are currently out of school for either the next 4 weeks until the summer semester starts or until September when the new school year begins. I have had several students ask me for recommendations as to what they should do during this break. I am always happy when I receive these questions because it indicates that students are being very proactive and they are genuinely motivated to continue on their path to success. And while many students may choose to work during their time off, I also recommend that they make a plan to keep content fresh in their brain and to work on bettering themselves in ways that will continue to be beneficial in the future.

If you are a post-secondary student wondering how to make the most of your break, here are some suggestions as to what you can do to stay on top of your game:

  • Reflect on how the previous semester went for you. What went well? What didn’t go so well? Were you happy with your grades? If so, great! Reflect on what you did to achieve those grades so you know exactly what to do when you return. If you were not happy with your grades, then you need to acknowledge that your study strategies are not as effective as you would like them to be and you will have to try something different next term in order to see different results. Consider seeking support from a tutor or a Learning Strategist like me to improve your knowledge and/or your study habits. Once you have thought about what you would like to start or stop doing, write it down! You’ll want to be able to refer to this once you return to your studies.
  • Make a plan to regularly review previously learned info. If you do not go over what you have learned in the past semester, then there is a very high likelihood that you will forget everything you learned! You don’t necessarily have to review every day, but refreshing your memory at least once per week will help to solidify those connections in your memory and ensure you have the foundational knowledge you need when it’s time to go back to school.
  • Work on habit-based goals that will benefit you not only in school but also in your future career. Summer break is a great time to start implementing some healthy habits into your daily routine such as getting consistent sleep, meditating, exercising, or cooking healthy foods. Practicing good self care helps to optimize your brain for learning and these positive habits can help you to improve many other areas of your life as well.

Whatever you decide to do during your well deserved break, I also recommend that you make time for fun and relaxation. Enjoy your time off and be sure to reach out if you have any questions or want to learn more about improving your chances of academic success.


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

How to be a Productivity Powerhouse – Part 2

Last week I shared 3 tips on how to increase your productivity while working from home:

Set up a workspace that includes comfort, convenience, and good vibes.
Incorporate healthy habits into your day by habit stacking.
Make a concrete plan to take control of your day.

As many of us continue to navigate our new normal, it’s important to consider the fact that we may have to continue to work or study from home for the unforeseeable future. It can be helpful to reflect on how things have been going so far. Have you been feeling super productive? If so, that’s great! Be sure to take note of what is working and keep doing it. If you’re feeling as though your productivity has been plummeting, then here are 3 more tips that can help you to be more focused and motivated, and get you back on track to being a productivity powerhouse!

1. Decrease distractions. Working from home can often mean that we are even more distracted than usual as there are so many distracting things around us at all times. The major culprits can be things such as your family, your phone and your fridge! These distractions can take a huge toll on your productivity so you want to ensure that you are controlling them instead of letting them control you. My advice is to follow the old philosophy of “out of sight, out of mind.” Try your best to find somewhere in your home that is away from others. If that is not possible, then try using earphones to listen to classical music (the only music that has been shown to increase focus) to drown out the noise so you that can focus. I also recommend turning off the notifications on your phone so that you’re not constantly interrupted. A Harvard study found that when you’re working on something and you’re distracted by your phone, it can take you an average of 25 mins to refocus on what you were originally working on! If you were to add up all the times you get interrupted by your phone, I’m sure you’d be surprised at how many hours are wasted by simply trying to get refocused. What has worked best for me is actually putting my phone in another room when I want to get focused. My productivity levels always quadruple when I do this!  Trust me, it really works. 

2. Master the art of single tasking. I used to pride myself on the fact that I could multi task well and work on several things at the same time. Over time, I slowly began to realize that I was actually taking longer to complete tasks and I was getting less done!  When I did some research on the act of multi-tasking, I discovered that I actually wasn’t multi-tasking at all, I was switch-tasking! According to an article on Medium, “Switch tasking is doing multiple different tasks that aren’t directly related to the same outcome.”  Switch tasking can cause you to take almost double the time you need to complete your task and also cause you to feel more stress and make more mistakes! I highly recommend that you try choosing JUST ONE THING to focus on at a time. It can be helpful to keep a running list of any other questions, tasks or thoughts that come up while you’re working, so you go back and deal with them after you’ve completed your task. 

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

3. Take control of your snacking. Many of my students have been reporting that they have been eating a lot more since being in quarantine. Being at home and in close proximity to the fridge and the pantry can definitely increase the temptation to eat more frequently. Boredom can also contribute to excessive snacking. And all those trips back and forth to the fridge can decrease your productivity. If this is a problem for you, I recommend keeping a food journal. Food journaling has been shown to help you to be more aware of what you’re consuming, which can in turn help you to limit your consumption. Pre-planning your meals and snacks in advance can help to keep you on track and more focused on your work. Stocking up on healthy, brain boosting snacks can also be a win win that can boost your work from home experience. 

And speaking of working from home… Check out the interview I did for the Lifestyle Designed podcast where I speak with Micheal Lambie, the extremely talented interior designer who designed my home office.

Stay safe and stay healthy and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need any support.


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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How to be a Productivity Powerhouse – Part 1

Many of us are working and/or studying from home right now, and some of us may not be quite used to it yet. I personally had never worked from home until now and I can acknowledge that it is a very big adjustment. There are just so many distractions like your phone, your family, and your fridge! Working from home can definitely be challenging and if you feel like you still have not found your groove, here are some tips that may help.

1. Set up your space. It’s important to have a designated space where you work from. Figure out where that space will be and work there every day so that your brain learns to associate that space with doing work. Your workspace should include the following elements:

  • Comfort since you will be spending lots of time there.
  • Convenience – You should have all the materials you need at arm’s length.
  • Good vibes – Choose somewhere where you feel productive and motivated to work and choose a few key items to lift  your spirits like a nice plant or a favourite picture.

If you will be using a multi-purpose space such as the kitchen or dining room table, try setting up a bag or kit with all of your work essentials that you can unpack to set up your space for work at the beginning of the day and pack up at the end of your shift to help differentiate the space’s use. For more tips on setting up your work space, see my previous blog post Setting Up Your Space to Work/Study from Home.

2. Incorporate some healthy habits into your day by HABIT STACKINGIt can be challenging to incorporate new habits into your routine. How many times have you told yourself, “I’m going to start working out everyday this week” and then the end of the week comes and you’ve worked out zero times! We are very much habitual creatures. We run on autopilot and we often don’t even realize how our day to day habits are so heavily ingrained.  Habit stacking is one way to hack your brain and make it easier for a new habit to stick.

Habit stacking is the act of attaching a new habit right before or after something that is already a fixed part of your routine.

For example, doing a 5-minute meditation right before you brush your teeth because you already brush your teeth everyday (at least I hope you do!). Incorporating things like exercise and meditation into your daily routine can be especially beneficial, as they are both what are known as “keystone habits” meaning that when done consistently, they can positively influence many other areas of your life!

3. You must make a plan. As the famous saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It is amazing how hours  and hours can just fly by with little to no productivity. Have you ever said to yourself that you’ll just check Instagram quickly and next thing you know it’s 3 hours later?! If you want to increase your productivity, you have to make a concrete plan to take control of your day. I recommend starting with the Rule of 3. First choose 3 things that you want to accomplish that week. Then, each day, choose 3 steps that you can take in order to get closer to achieving one of your weekly goals and plan when you will work on those goals during the day. Trust me on this one, you will be way more likely to accomplish your goals if you make a plan for what you would like to do and exactly when you plan to do it. Don’t leave it to chance.

Next week I will share Part 2, which will include some additional tips to help you work those productivity muscles. Be sure to subscribe if you would like to receive my weekly tips delivered right to your inbox.


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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How to Juggle Working from Home While Homeschooling Your Children

It is definitely an unprecedented time right now and we are all collectively facing many changes and challenges when it comes to navigating this new landscape.

With most school boards officially starting their “Learn from Home” programs this week, I have had many parents reach out to me for tips on how to manage homeschooling their children while simultaneously working from home. Since I happen to be in the exact same boat, I will share some of the strategies that have been helping me to manage my days while working from home and supporting my son’s learning.

Be organized. Be flexible. Be prepared. Be easy on yourself.

Here are a few tips you can try:

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1. Be organized. Making a plan or schedule in advance can be helpful in figuring out what will get done and when. Schedules are particularly helpful for younger children who thrive on routine. Create a schedule with your child (like the one I made with my son on the left) and try your best to schedule your less important work tasks during times when you know your children will need your attention.

2. Be flexible. Know that things will not always go as planned and be okay with that. Let your colleagues know if you have little ones around so that interruptions don’t come as a surprise. If you have a partner/spouse that you share parenting and homeschooling responsibilities with, discuss how you will set up your “shifts” to take turns working while the other takes over with the kids and vice versa.

3. Be prepared. Having work spaces set up with work books and supplies or having the fridge stocked with chopped fruits and veggies the night before can help make things easier the next day. It can also be helpful to have a back up plan in place should things not work out the way you intended.

4. Be easy on yourself. I recognize that everyone’s situation is different. And even though many of us are working from home, everyone’s home life and day-to-day experiences are quite unique. Despite our varied experiences, I want to remind parents that no matter what your situation is, you should simply just TRY YOUR BEST. Try your best and don’t expect to be perfect. Take it one day at a time and do what you have to do to get through. You got this.

If you do need some support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Stay healthy!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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Supporting Your Child in Learning at Home

As we hear news that school closures will be extended, many parents or guardians may be beginning to worry about how their children will do when trying to learn on their own from home. Here are some tips on how parents or guardians can help their children remain engaged in learning.

For elementary school-aged children:

  • Create a daily habit of doing some academic work by using habit stacking. For example, after they brush their teeth, get dressed and make their bed, it’s time to do some school work.
Use the stoplight system to determine which topics need to be
studied further, and which topics your child is confident in!
  • Schedule time to work on more challenging subjects earlier in the day when motivation and willpower are higher (as they can be depleted as the day goes on). Use the stoplight system to prioritize and schedule academic work based on your child’s knowledge level:
    • Red = more challenging work that they may need help with
    • Yellow = they are able to do the work with occasional guidance and clarification
    • Green = they are able to work independently with little to no support
  • Choose a designated learning space. Help your child to choose and set up a space where they will be able to work distraction free (away from TV, siblings). Help them set up a space that encourages them to enjoy their studying, like decorating a name tag or providing colourful school supplies.
  • Use rewards and incentives for earning screen time. For example, for each unit of work completed, your child earns 10 minutes of screen time for later that evening.

For high school-aged children:

  • I recommend similar tips for older students in terms of study space and making a plan or scheduling time to do school work; however, the difference is that teens can have a little more autonomy and flexibility. Allow them to choose the order of activities in their schedule as long as they have completed some academic time, and some active time on a daily basis. 
  • Be clear on screen time boundaries. Monitor and limit usage of non-educational apps. Create a cell phone parking lot in your home (far away from their study space) where the phones have to stay during academic time.
  • While we are waiting on updates from the school boards, students can work on homework/projects that were previously assigned before the closures. 
  • Many students will be missing their friends and the social interaction. Having virtual study groups using apps such as  House Party can allow students to focus on academics while engaging with their peers.
  • It’s a great time to learn/practice a new life skill such as cooking, cleaning, knitting, building, etc. Maybe the family can choose a night of the week where your child makes dinner for everyone!

Stay healthy and Happy Studying!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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Setting Up Your Space to Work/Study from Home

During these uncertain times, many of us are now working and/or studying from home in an environment that we may not be used to working or studying from! Adjusting to working from home can be challenging. Having a designated space to work in can be helpful for decreasing distractions and increasing both motivation and productivity. 

Here are my top 5 tips for successfully setting up your space:

  1. DO NOT choose your bed as your study space! Your brain associates your bed with sleep, and you will likely have difficulty feeling alert while you’re trying to focus on your work. It is better to choose somewhere in your home where you can sit upright in a chair such as an office, a kitchen or a dining room table.
  1. If there are other people in your home, try to choose a room that is far away from them (sometimes easier said than done) and close the door to minimize noise levels. If you have children and have a family member or partner who is also working from home, try to schedule shifts for watching the children so that you can take turns being productive.
  1. Make sure your work space is well lit. Good lighting helps your body to know that it’s time to be awake! Dimly lit rooms can make you feel sluggish and can cause you to have more difficulty concentrating. If there is not a lot of natural light, or the overhead light isn’t quite bright enough, consider using a table lamp to help brighten things up a bit.
  1. Ensure your study space is well equipped with everything you will need such as pens, pencils, a note pad or paper, Kleenex, lip balm, water bottle, healthy snacks, etc. Getting set up beforehand can help decrease how many times you will have to get up to go get something during your working time.
  1. Leave your cell phone in another room and check it during a scheduled break. I actually tried this tip today and I was AMAZED at how much more productive I was when I wasn’t checking my phone every 2 minutes. Studies show that if your phone is at least 20 seconds away from you, it can significantly decrease the temptation to check it constantly. I’ll admit, it felt strange at first.  But once I realized how much more I accomplished, I was hooked. I now plan to use this strategy as often as possible!

Stay healthy and Happy Studying!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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The Transition to Online Courses

Many post-secondary students are set to head back to class VIRTUALLY after their campuses have been closed due to COVID-19. As the institutions move to online delivery, many students may be anxious about the transition from in-person to online courses. Here are some tips that can help students as they navigate their new learning landscape.

  1. Treat your online course like an actual class. Be sure you are online and on time for each of your online classes so that you don’t miss out on any valuable information. Try to block off time each week to go through online course material, review weekly assignments and do any online activities. Try your best to do any assigned readings BEFORE attending the online lecture so that you are prepared and can follow along and take notes more effectively.
  1. Create an up to date study plan. Write down all of your remaining assignments, tests, and exam dates on a calendar. Be sure to check with your instructors to find out if tests and assignment due dates have been rescheduled due to the recent closures. I recommend writing down due dates for each of your classes using a different colour per class. This makes it easier to differentiate and keep track. Also write down what each test or assignment is worth, which will help you to prioritize the time and energy you put towards it.
  1. Make sure that you have what you need to be able to access your online courses, which includes hardware, software, technical equipment, and other materials. If you do not have access to everything you need, reach out to your instructor for assistance.
  1. Avoid distractions. I highly recommend that you turn off social media, email notifications and any other online application or website that can distract you from focusing on the course. Since online courses require independent study, it’s easy to get distracted and not focus on the course requirements. It is also recommended that you put your cell phone in another room while you are listening to an online lecture to decrease temptation. Studies show that if your phone is at least 20 seconds away from you, it can significantly decrease your temptation to check it every 2.2 seconds! I personally find that I am waaaay more productive when I purposefully leave my phone in another room when I really need to focus.
  1. Create a dedicated, distraction-free study space with all of the necessary materials needed to study. It is recommended that you DO NOT study or attend online lectures in your bed. Your brain associates your bed with sleep, which is the last thing you want to do while listening to an online lecture or studying.  Choose a well-lit area where you can sit upright and pay attention without the risk of dozing off!

Bonus tip:  Think positively and stay healthy. Try your best to remain positive and focused on your studies. Also remember to practice good self-care habits such as adequate sleep, exercise, nutritious foods, and lots of water. Taking care of yourself will help to keep you healthy AND optimize your brain for learning!

Happy Studying!


For information on the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to email me at studywithjoanne@gmail.com or visit my Contact page for more ways to reach me.

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